Double podium success for TF Sport at Snetterton

Monday, August 24, 2015

TF Sport recorded a double podium finish in the first of two Avon Tyres British GT Championship races at Norfolk’s Snetterton circuit (22-23 August), before the second race was red-flagged due to a torrential downpour that left the track resembling a river.

Buoyed by the its recent podium result at Brands Hatch and a positive test at Snetterton, TF Sport was hopeful of that successful outing was on the cards for its quartet of drivers, Derek Johnston, Matt Bell, Andrew Jarman and Jody Fannin, and this was validated when it finished first and third in Saturday’s (22 August) final free practice session.

Jarman went on to make good on the promise showed during practice to set a best time of 1m50.124s on his final flying lap of qualifying and claim TF Sport’s maiden British GT pole position, with the sister Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 of Johnston and Bell three rows back in seventh.

Milton Keynes’ Jarman maintained the initiative for much of his stint, keeping Oman Racing Team’s Liam Griffin and Ahmad Al Harthy at bay while building a gap of several car lengths.

Sadly, just before the first round of pits stops, a slower GT4 car held Jarman up and allowed Griffin to pass for the lead around the outside of Coram, with Al Harthy immediately following suit exiting Murrays.

After pit stops had played out, Jarman’s co-driver, Fannin, was left to negotiate the final 30 minutes of the weekend’s opening race and headed a three-way Aston Martin scrap for second position that involved the team’s sister car – piloted by Bell – and the championship-contending Beechdean AMR team.

The tension was high in the TF Sport garage as Bell and Fannin jostled for position during the final 20 minutes, but it was the latter who held firm to open his and Jarman’s 2015 podiums account and break their protracted streak of bad luck.

“A podium has been a long time coming,” said Jarman. “To qualify on pole was really nice and to then convert it into a podium was exactly what we were expecting. I was able to get a good start and make a gap, which was the aim, and then from there it was a case of keeping my head down and not looking in the mirrors. Jody (Fannin) drove a really good stint and to reward TF Sport with a podium was great, as the team has been working hard all year to get the car to where it is. This result has set us up well for Donington Park and the winter.

Heavy rain acted as a precursor to the weekend’s second and final 60-minute sprint race and the wet conditions caused several drivers to come together at the tight Montreal hairpin on the opening lap.

Negotiating his way through the carnage, Fannin climbed an impressive six places by the close of the opening tour to breach the top ten, as Bell moved into the final podium position.

Both drivers continued to run a solid race as conditions worsened, before handing over to their ‘gentleman’ counterparts with just over half a race distance completed.

In conditions that were more suited to power boats than GT machinery, several drivers fell victim to the ever deepening rivers and, with just ten minutes remaining, the race officials decided to red-flag the race before any harm came to the drivers.

“I think it’s the form we’ve been threatening all year, so the double podium is really what the team deserves,” said Bell. “Starting seventh in the first race with a five-second success penalty, we knew we were going to be quick and to come away with another podium was a great result for TF Sport, which has had a hard year. Collectively we have had the worst luck on the grid, so it was nice to show what the team is actually capable of.”

TF Sport Director, Tom Ferrier, said: “It has been an excellent weekend. From the start of the season the aim was to get both cars on the podium so and to then get pole as well. It feels great to tick them off the list! I’m glad we finished the second race with both cars intact, recording strong points score. Looking at the points from this weekend, I would imagine we are among the highest scoring teams. Hopefully we can carry this form to Donington.”

Source material - TF Sport
Photo credit - Richard Leach
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